So Fresh and So Clean Clean

If you know me personally, you know that I am a bit of a freak for organization.

One of my long-term life goals is to start a professional organizing service, but unfortunately, with the popularity of Marie Kondo and The Home Edit, the market is a bit saturated (also, I have literally no idea how to start a business). A clean home/workspace brings me an immense sense of calm, and has been an invaluable tool in maintaining my mental health. Cleaning and maintaining a household is hard work when you’re severely depressed, but it’s just those little actions that can help to lift you out of a funk*.

I decided to compile some of the things that have helped me conquer the chaos, because so many articles online rely on the reader to buy expensive products or have limitless free time, and, babe, we’re not all IG influencers. I’m out of my house for work 50 or more hours a week. If you search “entryway organization” on Pinterest, you get images of million-dollar homes (I don’t know how much houses cost, to be fair). I don’t have the time or resources to have a Pinterest-perfect home, but that doesn’t mean I can’t love and cherish my space.

Here are some of my favorite tips, tricks, and products for keeping a chaos-free home!

  • Actually KonMari your house. I know it’s controversial because most people have hoarding tendencies (way to generalize, Chels), but it’s the first step in the process and you can’t skip it. If you’re drowning in things, you’ll never get a real handle on your home. This is a blanket solution to your too-much-shit issues, since it applies to every room and every category in the house.
  • Sell stuff! Selling your used clothes and bags on Poshmark or at consignment stores can make getting rid of things into a game. I know people who’ve had luck with housewares on LetGo. You might as well get cash money as a prize for organizing.
  • This article on how to deep-clean your fridge is totally invaluable. It’s got to be done! I guarantee your mayonnaise has expired.
  • The dollar section at the entrance to Target! This section varies seasonally—it could even have different products in it week to week—but it almost always has storage solutions like bins, boxes, and jars, usually in adorable colors. P.S. Speaking of storage solutions, The Home Edit just dropped a collection at The Container Store and it is #goals.
  • Do the dishes while you cook. Nothing is more discouraging than finishing dinner only to face a massive pile of gross dishes. The best hack for this is to…
  • Use dishwashing gloves! Using gloves in the kitchen has changed the game for me. You don’t have to touch any food remains or wash your hands fifty times as you clean. Even though I use natural cleaning products, I still worry about residue on my hands from cleaning sprays, so this has spared my hands a lot of grief!
  • Reusable bags for every damn thing. I bring a reusable bag or two with me every time I go into a store. These fit everything, and they fold down into practically nothing. People have an inherent tendency to hoard tote bags (guilty), but if you narrow it down to a few you really love and actually use them, you spare yourself ever having to contend with those gross plastic bags ever again.
  • *very Oprah voice* EVERYTHING GETS A BIN. These are my personal favorite at the moment—I took everything in my office and separated it into categories (stationery, notebooks, sentimental items, etc), and it has made things so easy to find!
  • Containers, dispensers! Decant all your stuff into reusable containers and then just buy refill packs or concentrates. If you have, for instance, your dish soap in a glass bottle, then you can tell at a glance exactly how much you have, and won’t be tempted to buy extra “just in case.” Look under your sink and tell me how many extra bottles of countertop spray you have.
  • Take inventory before every trip to the grocery store. Seems like a pain in the ass, but how many bags of lentils do you need? Utilizing bins, containers, and turntables in your cabinets and fridge will make this a total breeze. Also, this spice rack is a game-changer if you’re like me and have every spice known to man.
  • Laundry gets taken out of the dryer, folded, and put away on the same day. This may sound like a no-brainer, but if you set a pile of underwear on top of the dresser because you’ll fold it and put it away “later,” it’ll still be there in a week, minus the ones you’ve plucked from it to wear (am I the only person that does this?). Laundry is my least favorite chore because it is never and can never be finished, but the quicker it’s out of sight, the quicker it’s out of mind. If you hate laundry too, the KonMari is crucial—when you have fewer articles of clothing, everything has a clear and designated place, so putting away your clothes is a breeze. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually do a capsule wardrobe…
  • Set reminders on your phone to water your plants. This is a new thing I’m trying. Pick a day a week, or month, depending on your plant’s specific watering needs. I have let so many plants perish from negligence, including a spider plant my husband managed to keep alive for the better part of a decade. Dead plants kill the visual vibe of any space, but living plants are good for the air quality in your home and make you seem like a classy adult who has her shit together!
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this is why you’ve got to water your plants. look how droopy and lopsided he is! i’m hoping i can bring him back to life.

I’m sure I could come up with a million more tiny things I do each day to keep my living space under control, but the above are tried-and-true methods that have taken me from being an absolute slob (just ask my parents) to a person who’s fiercely proud of her home. If you live with a partner (or kids), it can be hard to adjust to new routines, but I promise that in due time, they’ll see the myriad benefits of a clean space and get into it too!

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too many drawer dividers is just not a thing.

I apologize for the quality of the photos—I just used my phone and didn’t clean up beforehand—I wanted to show pictures of my actual day-to-day house, post-organizational implementation. It’s never perfect, but it’s always colorful.

*In no way am I endorsing the idea that you can “cure” depression by cleaning your house. That’s nuts. But since small tasks can be so overwhelming to those of us who deal with these issues, accomplishing them can be genuinely uplifting.
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Sunday Kind of Love xii

Welcome back to another installment of my link roundup! I had to get new tires for my car this week, so I’m broke, but I’ll be fantasizing about all of these wonderful things:

I’m re-reading The Hobbit for my Oxford Fantasists class this July, and it’s so, so cute to read as an adult. It’s so clear how much Tolkien loved medieval lit.

Anyone else super excited to see SOLO?

I can’t stop listening to Margo Price‘s All American Made. She is the second coming of Dolly Parton, and this album is so, so good.

Give me all of the Caboodles. ’90s kid 5ever.

Cannot wait to watch Ibiza! Phoebe Robinson and Vanessa Bayer are my faves!

I want this light fixture like you wouldn’t freaking believe. This is on my purchase list for when I finally get a “grown-up job.”

I haven’t started The Handmaid’s Tale season 2 yet, but I’ve heard it’s amazing (and super dark). Dare I take the plunge?

I’m thinking of doing this to all the drawers in my house. Too much? #neverenoughorganization

I can’t seem to get enough of this song right now. Belle & Sebastian forever!

Not to get all downer-y on ya, but I started using this app a couple of days ago and I’m really liking it so far. Great for keeping yourself accountable!

 

catch u nxt wk!

-c

Get To Work!

Control

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I know, I know. I’m a slave to capitalism. It’s unreasonable to spend $55 on a planner.

But I did it, and I’m not sorry. Because the Get to Work Book is my favorite planner, ever.

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I recently discovered that I’m a strong candidate for ADHD…which was not shocking for anyone who knows me. I wish someone had mentioned it to me before I was nearly thirty, but that’s neither here nor there. (LOL you thought this post wasn’t going to get crazy personal?) For someone with my, let’s say, executive functioning difficulties, organizing the mind is a top priority. I decided to start micro-managing my own brain by scheduling absolutely everything—work, class, gym, outings with friends—all of it goes in the calendar.

The Get To Work Book is an amazing resource. You can organize monthly, weekly, daily, and annual tasks, take ample notes, and set goals and priorities. There’s a power in seeing it all in writing. The page layout is even available online for those of us who might be a bit gunshy about the purchase.

I got a set of the Today Bookmark, the Book Band, and the 2018 Get To Work Book in black. I spent the big bucks on the full thing, but there are tons of other more economical options on the site, including the Project Breakdown Notepad and the Mini Grid Notepad.

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Moving forward, I’ll probably get the Perpetual Calendar Notepad annually, and I need these Rainbow To-Do List Stickies, for sure. What I love most about these products is that my purchases support a woman-owned small business!

Get To Work Books are available in some brick and mortar stores, but online is the easiest way to go.

Other Ways to Stay Focused

Oui Fresh Productivity Notepad Set— Another small business to support! The ladies of Oui Fresh just launched a small line of office products, including their Meal Planner Notepad. Being surrounded by beautiful things—from flowers to fonts—boosts my mood and helps me keep my cool. An organized physical space is as important as an organized brain space. The beautiful colors, graphics, and typography on Oui Fresh products makes work time feel like play time.

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did you think i was kidding?

Outlook Calendar, Google Calendar, or iCal — Honestly, I don’t even know if it’s called iCal anymore. I’m 100. I never used these incredible tools before last October, and let me tell you, they’ve changed my life. I’ve got them all synced—I get notifications on my phone and FitBit every time I have an engagement. Sometimes it’s annoying, like when it buzzes to tell me to go to work as I’m arriving to work, but the security of knowing I’ll never forget an appointment is well worth it. This would have sounded horrifying to me when I was younger, but now, I can’t live without it.

Cute Pens — It sounds dumb, but creating pleasant visuals is a great way to trick your brain! Color-coding your planner with pens (my favorites are purple Pentels and multi-colored PaperMates), is a great way to keep tasks organized, especially for those of us still in school.

Lifesum, FitBit, or the tracker of your choice — Another completely obsessive-compulsive thing that I do is track my exercise and food intake. But mostly food, let’s be honest with ourselves. What I love best about this is that it reminds me to drink water! I drink more water than the average bear, but it’s still not enough. Also, most days, the apps can shame me into eating yogurt instead of an egg-and-cheese bagel, so it’s great for self-flagellation. Keeping track keeps me accountable! Also, tracking your meals creates a routine, which is so important for people, comme moi, that struggle with, well, accomplishing things. Le FitBit monitors my sleep, which, as you can see from the above photo, I’m definitely not getting enough of! Also, now y’all know my goal weight, so.

Whiteboards — I legit have 3 separate whiteboards on my refrigerator. One for daily tasks, one for shopping/groceries, and one for weekly tasks. This serves the dual purpose of keeping me accountable for my duties and chores and letting my husband know where the hell I am all day. I got all of mine in the Target dollar bins—bless whatever they call that bargain section at the front—but this one, this one, and this one are perfect!

A Pill Case — I’m not even kidding. I’ve never been so regular on my meds. I bought this pill case, and I religiously fill it weekly (of course it’s pink, so I actually pay attention to it). I keep it right on my kitchen counter, where I typically make my coffee, so I never forget to take my antidepressants vitamins! This one is so DANG cute. Another great resource for this is care/of, a monthly vitamin delivery service I just started using.

***

This may seem horrifically excessive for “normals,” but taking these measures has improved my life significantly. Do you have trouble getting shit done? What measures have you taken?

In the immortal words of our Lord and savior, Beyoncé, “Always stay gracious / Best revenge is your paper.”

xoxo,

c

“It’s the little things.”

…is something that my mother-in-law-to-be uses so frequently, that it’s a staple phrase in any impression of her. Normally, we roll our eyes at her clichés (i.e. “don’t sweat the small stuff” and “cherish the moments”) but today, I find myself really appreciative of one tiny, little thing.

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My kitchen pegboard, you guys. I finally did it. (Disclaimer: I was 22 when I picked out those curtains, and was going for colorful country décor instead of my current vision of a neutral, modern space.)

I don’t know who officially “invented” this method of storage, but Julia Child (a.k.a. the life inspiration of us all) famously used it, and it’s no surprise why. It turns an otherwise empty, boring wall, into a functional work of art!

The cabinet/drawer situation in my kitchen is less than ideal, considering my love for cookware. I had been dying to do this for ages, so one day I just drove over to Home Depot and got my supplies! My father-in-law-to-be (I must really like these people, huh?) built a frame on which to mount the pegboard, and hung it up today. Now I have an entire cupboard for dry/paper goods! So much less counter-clutter!

Room by room, this former bachelor-pad is turning into a home. An inspiring space is so important to me—it allows me to feel refreshed and productive, a major plus considering this is my last year of college (FINALLY)  and I have to knock it out of the park. I recently transitioned from using a wall-facing desk in my foyer/office/mudroom/misery pit, to making the kitchen table my home base. The kitchen is my happy place—cooking and eating are my favorite things to do—so working in a comfortable, familiar atmosphere has been so inspiring! My new view while I work is a piece of my art, brightly-painted tchotchke shelves, and our stereo—everything from writing papers to paying bills has been 100 times more interesting.

The kitchen is nowhere near finished. I’d still like an island and a new fridge, both of which are in progress projects, and to whitewash or paint our cabinets white, but in its current state, our kitchen is functional and aesthetically-pleasing. Like Pinterest Junior.

image via Google
image via Google

I don’t know if Ms. Child would be horrified that I made my version of (vegan) “Warm the Fuck Up” Minestrone from Thug Kitchen’s cookbook tonight, but I’m sure she’d be glad that women of my generation are still cooking, and relishing the process.

–DellaBites

Products I Love: ABM x Agendas!

So, like all 20-something girls with a pulse and a Pinterest, I’m obsessed with Elsie, Emma, and Laura over at A Beautiful Mess. I’ve made their recipes, done their DIYs, and gotten tons of inspiration from their books and site. My house is like a living tribute to ABM. It’s borderline sad.

Anyway, when they announced that their academic agendas were up for preorder, I had to jump on it! I’m going back to school full-time in a month (provided my financial aid comes through!) and I definitely need to stay on top of my game. Graduation is on the horizon. I’m tired of being the ancient lady-past-legal-drinking-age in the classroom.  Plus, I’ve got this whole “wedding” thing coming up that I might need to stay organized for…

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The planners ship in mid-August (hopefully it will arrive not long after my birthday on August 19). In true ABM fashion, they come with cool little extras, like these emoji stickers:

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So cute, right? I of course opted for the following cover option, because gold foil is life:

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This actually looks like my desk at any given moment.

I’m so excited to receive mine in the mail! When it arrives, I’ll probably do a product review. In the meantime, I’ll just have to keep writing myself notes on scrap paper and hoping for the best!

**all photos via ABM